A Billionaire Alum, Seth Klarman, Labels Harvard ‘Exceptionally Hostile’ to Jews

‘This is not a morally ambiguous situation,’ he says.

New York Sun archives
Anti-Israel student activists demonstrate at a Harvard convocation for entering first-year students in Tercentenary Theater at Harvard Yard, Cambridge, Massachusetts, August 30, 2022. New York Sun archives

After Harvard students held an anti-Israel “die-in” at its prestigious business school, the billionaire donor whose name adorns the building next door to the protest site is urging the institution to “do more.”

“I continue to make my views known to administrators at Harvard,” an investor who is a Harvard Business School alumnus, Seth Klarman, tells the Sun. “The environment at Harvard and other college campuses is becoming exceptionally hostile to Jewish students and colleges and universities must do more. This is not a morally ambiguous situation.”

Hundreds of undergraduate and graduate students laid out on a courtyard on campus Wednesday to “demand an end to the ongoing genocide.” The Palestine Solidarity Committee organized the protest following the al-Ahli Baptist Hospital blast, which they claimed in an Instagram post was caused by an “Israeli airstrike.” They have not deleted the post nor issued a correction to the now widely debunked claim.

The lawn on which the students laid was donated by another prominent Harvard patron and alumnus, Gerald Schwartz, a Jewish Canadian billionaire who has gifted more than $100 million in total to universities in the United States and Canada. According to a statement from the school, Mr. Schwartz’s lawn is intended to serve as “an outdoor hub of community life at HBS.” That’s where hundreds of students on Wednesday held signs that exclaimed, “Hold Harvard Accountable for Supporting Genocide,” “No Justice No Peace,” and “Ceasefire Now.” 

The conference center adjacent to the pavilion, donated by Mr. Klarman, was “designed specifically to facilitate connections, conversation, and debate,” he said in a statement announcing the gift in 2014. Mr. Klarman and his wife “believe game-changing innovations will emerge from this space,” he said, adding that “it’s a privilege to be able to give back to a school that has given us so much.” 

The hedge fund manager has also given $32.5 million from his family foundation to the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT. His name is on a building at another Ivy League school, Cornell, from which he received his undergraduate degree. 

Klarman Hall at HBS was also the site of protests against President Obama ahead of his planned visit to a new lab at Harvard Law School on Wednesday. Even the former president, so widely admired by many college students, has not been immune to their criticism after he condemned Hamas’s attacks. PSC members marched from outside the university president’s office in Massachusetts Hall to Klarman Hall, waving Palestinian flags and shouting, “Free, Free Palestine.”

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